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Braiding Sweetgrass: About

A guide to Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults, the 2023-2025 Common Book.

What is a Common Book?

A Common Book is a shared reading experience that can serve as a foundation for writing assignments, research assignments, lectures, panel discussions, theater performances, videos, art displays, essay contests, visiting speakers, and other events.

Ultimately, the purpose of the Common Book is to build community and invite further engagement in our college core values of excellence, integrity, and respect. The Common Book can be used in part or as a complete entity in any variety of classes, and while not required, it's use is highly encouraged throughout its two-year tenure. 

About the Book

Drawing from her experiences as an Indigenous scientist, botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer demonstrated how all living things—from strawberries and witch hazel to water lilies and lichen—provide us with gifts and lessons every day in her best-selling book Braiding Sweetgrass. Adapted for new audiences by Monique Gray Smith, this new edition reinforces how wider ecological understanding stems from listening to the earth’s oldest teachers: the plants around us. With informative sidebars, reflection questions, and art from illustrator Nicole Neidhardt, Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults brings Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge, and the lessons of plant life to a new generation.


Riverby Award, Winner, 2023
Nautilus Book Award Winner, Winner, 2023
 Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year, Winner, 2023
NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12, Winner, 2023
The Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Books for Kids and Teens, Winner, 2023
Green Earth Book Award Recommended Reading, Commended, 2023
Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award Winner, Winner, 2022
Parents Magazine Best Children's Book Awards, Short-listed, 2022
Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year for Young Adults, Winner, 2022
Kirkus Best Teen Books of the Year, Winner, 2022

Starred Review Publishers Weekly

“Smith smartly streamlines language while staying true to the narrative’s core concepts by adding brief sidebars that explain featured terminology, pose reflection questions, and highlight important passages, inviting collaborative discussion and acting as a call to action.”—starred, Publishers Weekly

Foreword Reviews

“Urging a look toward history and tradition to teach us how to answer the questions of the future, Gray Smith adapts Wall Kimmerer’s wisdom for a new, hungry audience.”—Foreword Reviews

About the Author

Robin Wall Kimmerer (Author)

Author Robin Wall Kimmerer Robin Wall Kimmerer is a mother, scientist, decorated professor, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. She is the author of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants, which has earned Kimmerer wide acclaim. Her first book, Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses, was awarded the John Burroughs Medal for outstanding nature writing, and her other work has appeared in Orion, Whole Terrain, and numerous scientific journals. In 2022, Braiding Sweetgrass was adapted for young adults by Monique Gray Smith. This new edition reinforces how wider ecological understanding stems from listening to the earth’s oldest teachers: the plants around us.

Robin tours widely and has been featured on NPR’s On Being with Krista Tippett and in 2015 addressed the general assembly of the United Nations on the topic of “Healing Our Relationship with Nature.” Kimmerer is a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology, and the founder and director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, whose mission is to create programs which draw on the wisdom of both indigenous and scientific knowledge for our shared goals of sustainability. In 2022 she was named a MacArthur Fellow.

As a writer and a scientist, her interests in restoration include not only restoration of ecological communities, but restoration of our relationships to land. She holds a BS in Botany from SUNY ESF, an MS and PhD in Botany from the University of Wisconsin and is the author of numerous scientific papers on plant ecology, bryophyte ecology, traditional knowledge and restoration ecology. She lives on an old farm in upstate New York, tending gardens both cultivated and wild.

Biography from


Monique Gray Smith (Adapter)

Monique Gray Smith is a proud mom of teenage twins, an award-winning, best-selling author and sought after consultant. Monique’s most recent novel, Tilly and the Crazy Eights was long listed for Canada Reads 2021.

Monique has 9 books ranging for readers across the life span. Children’s books include My Heart Fills with Happiness, You Hold Me Up, When We Are Kind, Lucy and Lola and I Hope. Young Adult and Adult books include Speaking our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation, Tilly: A Story of Hope and Resilience, and recently released, Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults.

Monique’s books are used to share wisdom, knowledge, hope and the important teaching that love is medicine.

Monique is Cree, Lakota and Scottish and has been sober and involved in her healing journey for over 32 years. She is well known for her storytelling, spirit of generosity and focus on resilience.


Nicole Neidhardt (Illustrator)


Yá’át’ééh. Hello.

My name is Nicole Roessel Neidhardt.  I am Diné (Navajo) of Kiiyaa'áanii clan on my mother’s side and a blend of European ancestry on my father’s side. My Diné family is from Round Rock, Arizona and I grew up in Santa Fe, NM on Tewa territory.  I have my Master of Fine Arts from OCAD University in Toronto, ON and my Bachelor of Fine Arts and Business minor from the University of Victoria.   My Diné identity is the heart of my artistic practice which encompasses Indigenous Futurisms, Diné Storytelling, and children’s book illustration. I work in a variety of media and contexts such as: illustration, mylar stencilling, installation, mural painting and design, hand-poke tattooing, and facilitating community-engaged art.

I was a co-founder of the Innovative Young Indigenous Leaders Symposium, alongside Gina Mowatt. More info on that can be found here:

I am also a co-founder of Groundswell Climate Collective. More info can be found here:

Extras from the Creators